Historic Holiday Tours

Saturday evening-

Our home tour today was at the Neely Mansion, an old farm-house sitting on a plot of land near the Green River in what is now Auburn Washington. Five farming families, and various migrant workers, lived in the ‘mansion’ from 1894 through the 1980’s.

The house was decorated with traditional items from each family that occupied it over the years so the tour showcased a rather eclectic mix of decor, from Scandinavian costumes and handmade quilts, to Japanese clothing, to traditional turn of the century household furnishings. We were able to tour every room, except for the kitchen as it was in use as prep area for the tea service provided by costumed historical society members. Many of the rooms were painted in colors common to the era, but it was clear in much of the finishes and restorations that funding doesn’t allow for completely authentic restorations at this point. It was a nice opportunity, nonetheless, to read of some of the history of this area and daydream about owning a home such as this. I don’t know the definitive style of the home, but both lower and upper floors are centered around a long central hall and staircase. Four rooms on each floor are entered from the hall. While it was grand in size, and I imagine grand for its time, it was also clear that it was constructed as a functional and practical home.










Sunday evening-

Today was the historic homes tour in our state capitol of Olympia. This area, and the historical society, claim a large number of older homes and buildings, some stately and grand and others simply significant based on ownership and use. This area is one that’s always fun to explore, although we typically stay closer to downtown so it was nice to experience life in the neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, pictures didn’t seem to be encouraged within the homes, as they are all residences so I took a few of the exteriors. Overall it was an enjoyable afternoon, the homes were packed with people, and we spent a great deal of time taking off and putting on our shoes. Here are the homes I was able to get pictures of with necessary comments.


This is the Bigelow House Museum. You’ll have to take my word for the fact that the woodwork inside was amazing. The stairs were steep though and made me uncomfortable descending. I made an off-hand comment about that as I reached the end and the docent overheard, making sure to tell everyone nearby how the last owners, who lived into their 90’s, used to navigate those same stairs everyday with no problem. Thanks a lot Mr. Docent. Way to make your visitor feel especially awkward. Apparently Susan B. Anthony was a guest here as the original family was pretty big into woman suffrage.


This is the Meyer-Chitty House, a Craftsman Bungalow. The wrap around porch was amazing, as was the very open interior. The downside: pink everywhere inside and over 200 angels. The owner does medical volunteer work around the world and collects an angel from each new place she visits.  Nice idea, but that much shiny winged spirituality is very overwhelming. Also all the original woodwork was painted over in white. I always think that painting over gorgeous wood is a real shame.


The Backlund House, a 1930’s brick Tudor/Colonial Revival. This home was deceptive. It looks very small from the outside, but is really large once you enter. Probably the most modern of all the homes, it had been renovated nicely while keeping a great deal of the original features, such as intricate scroll-work arches between rooms and original built in cabinetry. *Sorry about the ugly car in the foreground.


The Patnude House built in 1893. Gothic revival style. Guess how much the original owner paid for the home…$2000! This is my favorite style by far, the type of home I always picture myself owning when I think of turn of the century architecture. I so wish that I could have taken some indoor pictures to share. The owner has undertaken a total homage to the gilded age with gold covering nearly every surface, reproduction wallpapers covering everything that isn’t gold and knickknacks so thick you can’t find the walls or table surfaces. There was actually so much stuff, and so many antiques that it was horribly distracting and I think really took away from, rather than adding to, the beauty of this old home.

Thanks for touring with daughter Alison and myself this weekend. Perhaps we’ll have the opportunity to take you all along again in the future.




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